The Abundance of the Heart

Blog entry
Authored by
8 April, 2008

"Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh." - Matthew 12:34

Karen's weekly assignment asks about powerful speakers and speeches that inspire.

I think there are fewer great speakers and fewer patient and willing listeners than there used to be; I can't imagine many people listening to the kind of day-long speaking events that were common in Lincoln's time. I take hope, though, from the easy availability of video on the net. It was easy for me to watch Senator Obama's speech about Reverend Wright, along with a Q & A session he did on the Google campus.

I didn't see any links to video of the speech he gave about habeas corpus, but I was able to find a transcript easily. I thought it was stirring and smart. It brought home the fear that comes of living under an overpowerful, unchecked government. Not everybody understands habeas corpus. Obama's speech took a distressingly ill-understood legal concept and made it real and human.

I'm sorry to say I don't remember any of the speech word for word, but I appreciate careful phrasing, in poetry, prose, and oratory, and I would like to learn more speeches by heart. I suspect that learning the rhythms and structures of great speeches would encourage my brain in habits that would make my own speaking clearer and more compelling.

I've spoken in public a few times, but only one occasion springs to mind: a few words of remembrance at my grandmother's funeral. I was surprised by the things I said - just as I find surprising ideas and feelings I didn't know I had when I write a song, I discovered things about my grandmother I hadn't even realized I loved until I was given the opportunity to speak.